Mobile money is great. However, MTN Mobile Money is far from great. In fact, it appears to be an endless case of fraud by its mobile money vendors.

It’s strange how we hardly hear of TIGO CASH, VODAFONE CASH OR AIRTEL MONEY fraud cases, yet MTN Mobile Money fraud seems to be everywhere you go (just like their tagline). This is despite the seemingly extensive anti mobile money fraud campaign MTN has rolled out.

MTN, you can do better. Just because your anti mobile money fraud campaign is ‘everywhere’ doesn’t mean it’s working. Miscreants will always adopt new strategies to defraud customers so your campaign needs to keep evolving and remain one step ahead.

So here’s my MTN mobile money fraud experience.

I went to a mobile money vendor/merchant at East Legon to deposit GHS 2,000 into my mobile money wallet in order to send some of it to two people. The merchant, PITHIAS ASTUGAH tells me he will not deposit it for me because he will not get any commission on it.

First red flag.

Well, I was in a hurry to get the transactions done, so I asked the agent to do it.

(Send the money to my two colleagues through him, the merchant)

Now to ensure the person withdrawing the cash received a round figure, I had to pay extra on the actual amount. So for GHS 500 to the first individual, I sent GHS 510; GHS 1020 instead of GHS 1000 for the second individual and GHS 365 instead of GHS 350 for the last transaction.

Checking with all the other MTN mobile money merchants on that stretch of road, I discovered they all had the same approach as PITHIAS ASTUGAH, which made me wonder how in-touch MTN is with the activities of their vendors on the ground.

I called the two individuals in front of the merchant to be sure they received the money and they confirmed that they had. But a few minutes after I left the scene and got to my office (which is also located in East Legon), I got a call from the first guy I sent GHS1000 to and he said someone called him, claiming to be an MTN mobile money merchant with the number ‘0550354712’ to say a lady came to East Legon to deposit money into his wallet but due to a few issues, which were being corrected, he would have to hold on for a while before he could receive the money in full.

I quickly decided to drive back to the merchant to find out what was going on only for the second guy I sent GHS500 to, to also call me with a similar story. I told the second guy not to take any action until I reached the vendor. When I got to the vendor he vehemently denied knowing anything about the call.

PITHIAS ASTUGAH then calls the MTN office to find out if the money was actually deposited into the mobile wallets of the two individuals and they confirmed YES, which means the first guy I sent GHS1000 to had his money withdrawn from his account in a fraudulent way. That was when I realized there was a sham going on. Luckily for the second guy, he did not followed the steps the unknown caller asked him to take so his money was safe in his mobile wallet.

I asked myself several questions:

1. I also deposited money into my mobile money wallet so why was I not called by the fraudster?
2. Why did the caller describe me and the place I did the transaction?
3. Why did all this take place less than 5 minutes after the deposit took place?

Arguing with the vendor proved to be useless so I decided to report the issue to the EAST LEGON Police Station, and upon his arrest, I found out that:
1. The merchant has had series of very similar cases in the past
2. The boss of that merchant is a full time worker at MTN Ghana (Head Office, to be precise) and deals in the supply of MTN SIM Cards. The Police visited the boss of the vendors house and indeed saw a lot of SIMS. I can authoritatively confirm.

When I called MTN about the issue, the information was shared with the MTN Fraud Team via email and I was kept in copy. I also found out that the SIM used by the merchant is a ‘directional SIM’, something I did not really understand, until I probed and discovered it basically means a SIM that has not been registered in the system.

I contacted NCA about the directional SIM and a staff of the regulating body told me it’s simply a case of SIM BOX FRAUD and per laid down regulations, the operator, MTN is supposed to follow through and resolve my case.

It’s been more than 2 weeks now.

Has MTN taken any action on my case?
No.

Why?
Well, I suspect it’s because the mobile money merchant has the help of an insider from MTN (which explains why he has managed to survive this long even after several fraud complaints).

I speak for hundreds whose voices cannot be heard or perhaps have no network to channel this to. All they can do is to keep mute and suffer this unfortunate treatment from MTN.

And oh, the saddest part is when I asked why MTN and not the other telcos, the response was “because they are the biggest”…Really? So sad!

Why do we keep using MTN when there’s Vodafone Cash, Airtel Money and Tigo Cash? Especially when the instances of fraud with these other services seem to be far lower than MTN Mobile Money?

Does MTN have any form of compensation for customers who lose money due to fraudulent activities? Or a dry apology is all they get? Will MTN finally sit up if they finally start losing money?

How quickly and efficiently is MTN updating customers on the various strategies used by fraudsters? Is the MTN fraud alert campaign having the kind of impact it should have?

My message to MTN is,

• IF YOUR CAMPAIGN STRATEGY IS NOT WORKING CHANGE IT.

• WILL PAYING BACK EACH DEFRAUDED PERSON BE A BETTER WAY? MAYBE THE REGULATOR SHOULD LOOK AT THAT.

• SANITIZE THE SYSTEM – MOST OF YOUR FRAUDULENT MERCHANTS ARE WORKING WITH INSIDE HELP FROM MTN STAFF.

• SCRAP VENDORS WHO HAVE HAD A SERIES OF FRAUDULENT COMPLAINTS LEVELED AGAINST THEM BY CUSTOMERS.

• MTN, I NEED MY MONEY BACK!

My Plight
vheronyckah@gmail.com




11 COMMENTS

  1. My boss it’s true
    Am a victim and MTN GH initiates policies in their favor at the expense of the hard working Merchants.

    Some of their officers are crude
    And they partner some agents in this fraud issues
    Please the NCA should work on them
    we are dying ooo
    My humble appeal.

  2. Just last week, it was done to a friend of mine. When we approached them, the only thing they could say was “we are very sorry but there is nothing we can do about it.Try to talk it over with the person.” How possible?
    I fink is high time we keep our steps back from them.

  3. That’s a terrible experience. Note that there is no proof other telcos are safer. It sounds dismissive but the argument of the market share is valid. But I agree with you they are not doing enough to arrest fraud. Priority has been placed on expansion more.

  4. Seriously I have been saying this :there are people within the mtn office who gives info to the fraudsters. Before they will call u they know the amount u have in ur wallet. They mostly use code, the fraudster gives u code, nd as soon as u dial the code on ur fon, it automatically withdraw your money form your account. It happened to a gal in dawenhya last month, she had a call from a stranger who says she has won an mtn promo but doesn’t have enough money in her account so she should top up, meanwhile her acct was 900ghc, she went nd top up with 600ghc nd they called back, gave her a code to dial. After dialing the code she realized all the 1400ghc has been withdraw. She trying calling the stranger back but the line was switched off. We knew about this issue when she took rat poison nd she was reached to the hospital. She is safe now…..

    But mtn have to do something about his fraud issue if not we will hit the street. We ar all not rich customers there are head potters (kayayoo) who are using mtn too. Stop defrauding us.

    If nothing is done. We the mtn customers will hit on the street nd on that very day we will switch from mtn to another network. Your fraud team and alertness message is not doing about thing to the society and your customers. Fish out the thieves within you(mtn)

    PLEASE ADOM FM, HELP ME SEMD THIS TO MTN GH.

  5. I was nearly fraud but was very smart ,my own the fraudters end up becoming my friend he told me most of their strategies they use to get people I got shock that day.please I will like to get intouch with you to explain things too you.

  6. Good job bro, their so called big networ is the reason why they don’t treat their customers well. I think is time we change as Ghanaians and stop following where the crowd goes. We can use the other networks to avoid this fraud issue on the Mtn network